NOT many people can say their dog has saved their life.
But Maryborough's Alexandra Hanney, 9, is one of those lucky few.
Her mother Peta was awakened from her sleep in the early hours of the morning by the family's fox terrier urgently licking her hand.
Peta was immediately aware there was an alarm going off.
The alarm belonged to Alexandra's oxygen concentrator, which was almost out of battery.
Just as Peta reached the machine, the battery ran out.
She quickly moved to connect it to a power source to ensure her daughter would continue receiving oxygen.
Alexandra suffers from central sleep apnoea, a serious condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.
People who suffer from central sleep apnoea can be vulnerable to brain damage, seizures and even death if the condition isn't managed.
Peta said five-year-old Peppa, the family's beloved dog, wasn't usually allowed inside as they were renting.
But Peta noticed a sore on Peppa's leg and decided to let her sleep on the couch for the night.
"About 2am she came into my bedroom and started licking my hand," Peta said.
Peta said the sound of the alarm had not awakened her.
"I was obviously sleeping through it," she said.
As Peta leapt into action to ensure her daughter would continue receiving oxygen, Pepper stood at the door and continued to keep a watchful eye.
Peta said hearing the alarm was a shock to the system, especially as she had just woken up.
Peta said she knew the outcome could have been bad if not for Peppa's actions.
"Worst case scenario, she could die," Peta said.
"I'm very relieved it didn't get to that point."
Peta said she was very grateful to her pet and she's making sure Peppa knows that.
"She's our hero dog," she said.
"If she hadn't woken me, it's possible my daughter would have been without her oxygen for hours, which could have ended badly."
Peta said there had always been a special connection between Alexandra and Peppa, with the two having a great deal of affection for each other.
Alexandra has autism and wasn't always the most gentle child, Peta said.
"But Pepper is very tolerant of her and very protective."
Despite the protective instincts of the dog, Peta admitted Peppa's actions in coming to Alexandra's aid astonished her.
"It does surprise me," she said.
"You just don't expect that. You know dogs are clever, but that's like a human reaction."
Peta said there would definitely be extra treats for Peppa under the Christmas tree this year.
Symptoms of Central Sleep apnoea
Daytime sleepiness, fatigue and tiredness
Irritability and mood changes
Need to get up to toilet frequently at night
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